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Pradeep Kumar, 24, woke up to a call by a police officer that a man had drowned in the lake, which he has been cleaning for over two years. He ran to the spot and fished out the body. But this isn’t the first body he has fished out — in March, Kumar was called in after an elderly woman slipped and fell into the lake and drowned.
Kumar lives with his family at Hauz Khas Village, and gets paid by a private contractor for cleaning the lake. “I woke up to the news that a man had drowned,” said Kumar, who hails from Bihar and lives with his parents and siblings.
“A huge crowd had gathered and divers were conducting the operation. I jumped in the water as well and started looking. The body was deep inside, about 10 metres away from the bank. I had to go 12-15 feet under the surface,” said Pradeep. “The water here is choppy and a lot of broken branches fall into the lake. There are some broken boats too. It’s not easy for government divers to conduct a search operation here,” he said. “Since it’s my job to clean the lake, I have to keep diving into the water,” he said.
Kumar’s colleague said a taller fence around the lake can help avert such incidents. “We ask people to stay away but they don’t listen. Sometimes they sit on branches, at other times they scale the fence and play near the lake,” he said.